ethereal sounding software
July 3, 2008 3:35 PM   Subscribe

I have a gear question... what kind of software do ethereal electronic semi-improv bands use? I'm thinking, for instance, of tape...

i mean, it's the kind of music that when you go see it live there always has one guy hunched over a laptop producing lots of strange textural sounds... any ideas? also what software can one use to alter the sound of an acoustic instrument in real time?
posted by MrMisterio to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ableton Live and software synths like NI Absynth are a couple that come to mind.
posted by umbĂș at 3:48 PM on July 3, 2008

Also, dedicated DSP (digital signal processing) units allow people to use lots and lots of audio plug-ins on acoustic sounds live without an audible CPU delay.

I haven't tried this yet, but the program Mainstage that is now bundled with Apple Logic was created for this purpose of processing sounds live.

I don't know whether pros look down on it, but I think Propellerheads Reason is a remarkably versatile program that could do what you're asking.
posted by umbĂș at 3:54 PM on July 3, 2008

For realtime tweaking of acoustic sounds, read up on VST effects. You'll need a host program, and yeah, Ableton is a good choice for this sort of thing.
posted by squidlarkin at 4:10 PM on July 3, 2008

The textured layers in your linked example - that aren't accoustic or played insturments - can be pretty much done with anything that can play samples back - Audiomulch, Buzz, Ableton Live, Reason, Cubase, Max MSP, PD and so on. For ease in live use though, Ableton Live and Audiomulch are probably the best choices.

Altering the sound of an instrument in real time? FX's. Delays, reverbs, granulizers, distortions and so on mixing and twitsting and stirring those kinds of things together.
posted by Drama Penguin at 4:14 PM on July 3, 2008

Best answer: Max/MSP is the gold standard for this kind of thing, and almost certainly the most versatile tool for live audio processing and performance on the market. (User friendly? No. Inexpensive? No. Versatile? Yes.) Here are some examples of how Keith Fullerton Whitman (aka Hrvatski) uses the program in service of music that bears some similarity to Tape.
posted by aparrish at 7:29 PM on July 3, 2008

Hooray, Tape! Man, they're great. I know Johan Berthling somewhat, I've sent him an email. He should know, even though it's Andreas who plays the laptop.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 3:37 AM on July 4, 2008

I use the samplers and effects in Reaktor. And I didn't know about Tape, so thanks for that!
posted by Dean King at 7:23 AM on July 4, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everybody... great answers... now it's time to test these things at home...
posted by MrMisterio at 8:19 PM on July 4, 2008

Best answer: I got my answer! Andreas Berthling uses SuperCollider, free and available to download from
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:19 AM on July 5, 2008

Response by poster: Many thanks, soundofsuburbia!!
posted by MrMisterio at 7:23 AM on July 6, 2008

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